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Pride 2018: Toronto - the city keeping activism at its heart

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Up to one million people are set to flood into Toronto today for the city's 38th annual pride parade, along with a whole host of artists set to take the stage to celebrate in style.

The parade, which kicks of at 2.pm GMT is the grand finale of an entire month of celebrations and events for the city.

The organisers of Pride are using the events that took place this month to recognise the decades of HIV/AIDS activism in Canada.

The heads of Pride Toronto in a recent statement said: "In Toronto, Pride Month focuses on remembering our fight for survival; it's unending and every year its importance grows. In 2018... we celebrate those organisations that have been created to support the community and continue to act as cornerstones for all of us."

Over 120 groups will unite to march along the downtown route in the parade to celebrate the rainbow flag, however, the police will not be marching alongside them.

This year marks the second year in which officers marching in uniform have been banned from the parade, following the tensions between the LGBTQ+ community and the Toronto police force. 

The police came under fire after they failed to take the disappearances of gay men seriously for several years - until this year, in January, where police arrested Bruce McArthur, 68, who now faces eight first-degree murder charges.

Most of his alleged victims were men who spent their time in the Gay Village. 

Back in 2016, the Black Lives Matter movement halted Toronto Pride for 30 minutes to make a number of demands for Pride, including banning the police force from marching in uniform and preventing them from marching armed with guns at the parade.

The demands were met, making this the second pride that the ban has been put into action for.

Therefore recently, many people believe that Pride has been returning to its activist roots, where it began as an act of defiance and unity. 

Grammy-nominated artist, Kehlani, is headlining this year’s celebration at the Final Play stage after the march, but among the well-known performers are the other local, queer artists and DJ's ready to cook up a storm. 

toronto i had a fucking BLAST happy pride

A post shared by ARTIVIST 333 (@kehlani) on

The Village Stage at the parade aims to move beyond gender binaries and is inclusive of intersecting identities of Latin American descendants, and several DJs will be performing here.

One of the performers who is set to light up this stage is DJ, Pan Dulce, who will be returning to pride this year on the Village Stage from 4pm to 11pm.

Amongst many things, Toronto has one of the most vibrant Drag King scenes in the world, so it’s no surprise that a group of drag kings are taking over the Village Stage from 2pm to 3pm for ‘king hour’. The event is hosted by Pretty Munny Productions and is set to include some of the city’s best drag performers.

The trans Space, located at Church Street, will be providing a welcoming, inclusive space during the weekend to offer free information, activities, and support to members of the transgender community, including those who are questioning or curious.

Families can also get involved with this year’s pride, with events taking place over the weekend for LGBTQ+ families, including sports, crafts, face painting and story time for children under twelve at the church street public school.

At the beginning of Pride Month, the Mayor of Toronto, John Tory expressed his thanks to Pride Toronto.

“Pride Toronto is the largest Pride celebration in North America. It is one of our country’s premier arts and cultural festivals that celebrates the history, courage and diversity of Toronto’s LGBTQ+ community.

He added: “I thank Pride Toronto for their dedication to create a future where everyone in our city is accepted, valued and celebrated."

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